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The Warm-Up: A Critical Start (with Maghalie Rochette)

Cyclocross is an intense sport, requiring 100% effort from the starting gun through the finish tape. For nearly an hour we ask our body to respond to the constant balance of effort and recovery and this requires preparation. So when it comes to warm ups you may be left wondering: How long? How intense? What should I be trying to accomplish? When to start and finish your warm up? What does a ‘cross warm-up look like?

Explore the answers to these questions with Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Superstar (and recently crowned Canadian and Pan-Am Games Champion) Maghalie Rochette. 

Why Do We Need to Warm Up? 

MR: The main goal of the warm-up is to prepare your mind and body for the demands of a race. Your routine should be long and intense enough to warm you up, but not wear you down. Cyclocross races start really fast, so you need to work hard enough in the warm-up so that when the starting gun goes off your body isn’t left in complete shock. 

I like the warm up to feel like it “opens up” my legs, lungs and heart so my body is ready and accustomed to the effort when the race starts. There’s a textbook of physiology going on in the warm-up, and although I’ll spare those details the objective is to feel like you’re ready to hit the front and stay there!

How Do You Prepare Your Mind?

I find that the warm-up is also a time to get into a good mental space – a time to get into your own bubble and get acquainted with (and enjoy) the effort that’s coming. I listen to music when I warm up. I have a few different playlists with different kinds of music, depending on the mood I need to be in. Sometimes races call for being aggressive and sometimes you simply need to smile and have fun. Either way, I listen to music that makes me happy and find this will get my mindset where I want it to be.  

This is also a good time for visualization. I do pre-rides of the course earlier in the day. David and I find the most challenging points in the course during this recon and my warm-up is a good time to recall these strategic points and what’s needed to perform at my best.

The mix of physical and mental preparation is what truly makes up a warm-up routine!

David is the coach, the mechanic, and the guy who makes it all happen – setting up the trainer is part of the deal!

 

Does the Weather Affect Your Warm-Up? 

MR: The basic structure of my warm-up does not change, though I do adapt it depending on the temperature, or other factors that may affect how I feel. For example, I don’t deal well with extremely warm weather. I tend to over-heat very quickly, so I have to be meticulous when racing in the heat. If it’s hot outside, I’ll change my warm up drastically. 

One of the things I’ll do differently on a hot day is that I’ll skip the trainer and will instead find a road to warm up on – the wind in my face is refreshing. I’ll also shorten my warm up and often I will even skip the “build up to threshold”. I may just go out to spin and do a few short sprints with full recovery between each to make sure my legs are opened up, but that my heart rate doesn’t get too high. It’s difficult to bring your heart rate down in the heat, so there is no reason to bring it up super high before the race starts.

Alternatively, the trainer is amazing when the temperature is really cold! That refreshing breeze from riding the road isn’t so refreshing anymore!  

Fatigue – does your training plan affect your warm-up?

While I won’t divulge the details of my training, there is an ebb and flow to a season’s preparation. Fatigue happens. Fresh legs happen. Some days you feel great, and others you don’t. I remember at the 2018 Bern World Cup, I started my warm up and my legs felt sluggish.  That particular day in Switzerland I felt like the best strategy was to diminish the intensity of the warm up. I did the same routine, but I turned it down 10%. Turns out it was the right call, because I felt amazing during the race. 

There are days where the best way to deal with heavy legs is to do a few solid efforts, and then you start feeling better. Other times, I know my legs are tired, so I just decide to spin easier for a longer period of time before I start the efforts. Pay attention to where you are in your training to decide which is better. 

Unfortunately there is no magic, pro cyclocross racer, top-secret solution to this problem. Making the right call takes time and experimentation and every rider at the start line of a World Cup has gone through the process of refining their most effective routine.

The best advice I could give is to record everything in your training log afterwards. You can write how you felt during the warm up, how you decided to adapt your typical warm-up, and how you felt in the race afterwards. Trial and error is your best friend…

The Details – Give Us the Specifics!

I like to keep my warm-up pretty short. 

During a race day I’ll probably ride on the course 2-3 times, which amounts to about 30-45min of riding time before I actually start the warm-up. I think it’s important to keep that in mind when creating your routine…you don’t want to end up riding two hours before your race has even started (especially if you only train an hour at a time).

Traveling to Europe for a World Cup campaign means we do without a lot of our conveniences, like a warm-up tent!

 

Here’s what my typical cyclocross pre-race warm-up looks like: 

**I do this warm up on the Feedback Sports Omnium trainer. I prefer the Over-Drive version, because it offers progressive resistance the harder you go. This allows you to pedal hard without spinning out. We have some competitors who use the Zero-Drive, and some who use both, depending on where they are in their training!

10 minutes easy

5 minute build up (from tempo to a little over race pace)

2 minutes easy

3 x 30 second build up (from race pace to fast)

2 min easy

Immediately after I finish the trainer session I eat a gel with caffeine. At the start grid and I do one quick start of about 5 seconds. That short sprint is also an opportunity to finalize your starting gear.

I feel like this warm up (less than 25 minutes total) is enough to open me up, but it doesn’t leave me fatigued.

Practice Makes Perfect

As I mentioned, we are all different, so my warm-up routine may not work for you. However, I encourage you to find one that you like and practice it in training to see how it makes you feel. I’ve done the same warm up for the last 7 years, so I know this one works for me. It can get boring to do always the same thing, but at the same time, it brings tranquility and confidence. My body knows this effort and my mind is confident this is getting me ready to perform. 

 

Thanks Maghalie! If you’re unsure of whether to use a trainer or rollers check out Maghalie’s article on that very subject. If you’d like to get to know David Gagnon, Maghalie’s coach, partner, and mechanic a bit better read this quick Q&A here.

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Mechanic’s Corner: Disc Brake Rotor Wear

We’re deep into the riding season, here in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. It’s time to consider the preventative maintenance that can keep your riding free of clicks, creaks and pops. In addition, wearable items are starting to see the effects of your daily mileage. To help maximize your Team Edition and Ride Prep Tool Kits, and any one of our premium bike repair stands, a couple of weeks back we took a look at the most common wear items today we’ll dive a little deeper. 

DISC BRAKE ROTOR MAINTENANCE

With the ever-increasing popularity of disc brakes (hydraulic and mechanical), one of the easiest bike maintenance procedures is to inspect disc brake rotors. This maintenance tip suggests a quick way to insure you are getting the best performance from your braking system.

WHY DO I NEED TO DO THIS?

Disc brake rotors endure a large amount of heat and friction on a regular basis. They can withstand large forces and are responsible for slowing our bikes down, which they do quite well. But as a result of these physical demands, it is a good idea to check them for wear regularly. Disc brake rotors will typically last through 2, maybe 3 pairs of brake pads (pad material and riding conditions influences this), but it’s never a bad idea to add a thickness check to any regular maintenance schedule. 

DISC BRAKE ROTOR MAINTENANCE – THICKNESS INSPECTION

Rotor inspection is easiest with the wheel removed because the minimum thickness standard is etched quite small on the rotor. This print is located on the outer surface and is presented something like  “Min. TH=1.5”. This is interpreted as “minimum thickness of 1.5mm”. Anything less than 1.5mm means it is time to replace (for this particular Shimano rotor). This measurement is not the standard for all rotors – for instance, Hayes is 1.52mm, Shimano is 1.5mm, Sram minimum disc brake rotor thickness is 1.55mm. However, these aren’t guidelines, but rather highlight the fact that there is no universal standard and looking closely at your specific rotors is crucial.  

Use your Feedback Sports Digital Calipers and measure the thickness at the braking surface, ensuring you have as much of the rotor braking surface within the calipers jaws (as seen). With such precise measurements, it’s good to check several points on the rotor, multiple times. 

If your rotors measure above the indicated minimum thickness then you’re in the clear. If your digital calipers measure below, contact your local bike shop (LBS) to purchase new ones. Your shop will have questions, so be sure to take note of your rotor size (140, 160, 180, 200, 203mm, etc.) , mounting style (centerlock or 6-bolt), and manufacturer of your disc brake caliper.

Since you’ve got the wheels out it is a good idea to double check your centerlock lockring or your rotor bolts for torque. The Team Edition Tool Kit includes the Bottom Bracket + Lockring Tool (which can manage standard and over-sized centerlock lockrings) and our Range Torque + Ratchet Wrench can handle 6-bolt, T25 torque specs.  If you’re replacing the rotors, be sure to face any writing on the rotor outward from the hub as pictured. 

Now that you’re confident you understand the mechanical status of your rotors, reinstall the wheels and get back to riding! Or replace them if needed, of course!

This simple check, and so many more to come, can be done with little mechanical experience. As we always say, with the right tools and a quality bike repair stand, anybody can service their bike. 

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Mechanic’s Corner: Q & A with David Gagnon of Specialized/Feedback Sports Cyclocross Team

In our Mechanic’s Corner series we’ve been shining the spotlight on the ones behind the scenes that make racing and riding happen for us, the mechanics. Earlier this week we announced that we would be the co-title sponsor of Maghalie Rochette and the CX Fever team. So let’s get to know her Mechanic, Coach, partner, and skilled baker, David Gagnon.

When did you start working as a bike mechanic and how did you get into it?

I raced triathlons when I was younger and quickly realized that having a bike that works properly is important. I liked working with my hands so I started doing small things on my bikes really young. When I was in university, we started a small bike shop where 3 of us really had to do every single task from building bikes to ordering and accounting, so I quickly learned the proper basics at that moment. That shop didn’t last long. It was a lot of work and we ended up closing after 3 years. From there I worked on my personal bikes but I never worked in a shop.

How did you transition into becoming a race mechanic? How long have you been working as a race mechanic at this point?

That really came out of necessity more than a transition. When Maghalie started racing cyclocross 7 years ago, there had to be someone for her in the pits and so I found myself working on her bikes and helping he out at the races more and more until it became clear that she was really good at this and that she would need full time support.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a race mechanic? What is the most stressful part, before, during, or after the race?

Honestly, it’s a great job. You have to be very adaptable and flexible with work conditions. You won’t always have the perfect light, the perfect environment and/or the perfect conditions to get the bikes ready, but if you are a bit creative and have the right tools, it becomes fun. For me, I see these different work conditions more as an opportunity to be creative and find solutions more than challenges. The biggest challenge for me is all the driving. Being from Canada, we often drive down to the US for a few weeks at a time and go from one race to another and a lot of times it means a ton of driving. Driving 40-60 hours per week can get hard on the body and mind sometimes.

The most stressful part for me is the first 30-60 seconds of the race. There’s a lot of traffic and if a crash is going to really mess up the race, it’s most likely going to happen in the first few turns. Once they go by the pits once, I’m pretty stress free. Since most of time it’s just Maghalie and I at the races, getting the race bikes ready, building the setup at the races, and packing everything up isn’t really stressful. It’s actually relaxing 🙂

What are some of the most challenging last minute or on the fly repairs you’ve had to do?

Honestly, nothing very exciting here. We come to the races prepared with all our equipment working 100% and spares of everything and Maghalie runs 3 or 4 bikes per weekend so if for whatever reason one bike isn’t perfect, we can usually do without it and I can fix things stress free following the race.

Only one time I remember being a little worried. At Supercross Cup in NY a few years back, it was very, very windy and one of Maghalie’s bikes fell on the ground really hard 15mins before the start – the frame was broken. That got me a little stressed but we ended up using a friend’s bike that we fitted as best as we could in 15mins as a pit bike for Maghalie. That friend was over 6ft tall, and had a 58cm bike, wider bars, longer cranks & a different company shifting/braking system. So needless to say, it was quite the change for Maghalie when she had to come in the pits. It was super muddy so she had to come in every half lap. We made it work and Maghalie went on to win, and sweep her first ever UCI race weekend!

Do you have any pre-race rituals? What are they?

Nope, no rituals. Except cleaning the bikes, do a proper bolt check and double check tire pressure.

How do you balance being a coach as well as a mechanic?

It’s actually great cause I can see the race from the inside and adjust training a lot with equipment testing and such. I only work as a mechanic for Maghalie and a few close friends that sometimes need help at home or at the races so my job is mostly coaching. Working as a mechanic feels more like a hobby and a nice change sometimes 🙂

You work with Maghalie exclusively all season, what sort of unique challenges does that present throughout the season and how do you move past those?

Working only with Maghalie is great, it gives us a lot of breathing room and a realistic amount of work and logistics that leave us enough time that we don’t feel overwhelmed. We do end up spending a ton of time together driving, training, travelling, eating, etc. and that could be a challenge for a lot of people, but we get along pretty well and we actually feel very fortunate that we can both do what we love, together, for a living. There is no one else in the world I would do this with.

You and Maghalie would be what most consider to be a privateer program, what are some of the largest challenges you face as a mechanic/only staff? What are some of the benefits?

You know, it looks like that from the outside, but Maghalie’s family help us out a lot. Maghalie’s mom and dad come to a lot of races and they are always happy to help, whether it’s in the pits or with the logistics of travel. Magh’s dad is a big cycling fan and for him, to have the pit passes and be around that environment makes him really happy and excited.

In North America, cyclocross is a very tight knit world and when the races require a bit more manpower, we’re always very fortunate to have friends at the races helping us. I’m also good friends with a lot of mechanics from North American teams/riders and so we help each other out in the pits. I’ll catch for them when their rider comes in and they’ll do the same for me when Maghalie comes in. CX in North America is a small world and everybody is super helpful. I could go on for days talking about situation where Cannondale Cyclocrossworld carried Magh’s bikes from one race to another or when we drove other team’s mechanics at the airport or used their bike wash area, etc. It’s a big family.

In terms of the benefits of being just the two of us, well, there are a lot. We only book 1 hotel room. We travel in the same car. It’s very easy for us to make or change plans since we don’t have to fit in other people schedules.

Having experienced a lot of different countries and meeting a lot of other mechanics, what are some differences you notice between the way North American mechanics approach a repair and the way European mechanic’s do? Are there differences in the relationships they have with their riders compared to that of North American teams?

The first thing that comes to mind is swapping parts vs. fixing stuff. I feel like Euro Mechanics will spend a lot of time trying to fix things and be very creative making custom tools for custom parts that they custom fixed as where here we’re most likely going to just put a new derailleur on the bike instead of fixing it. I guess that also reflects on  the overall lifestyle and choices of Europe vs. North America.

In terms of the relationship between mechanics and riders, in Europe a lot of riders have their dad, brother, husband, father in law, etc. be their mechanic. It’s not uncommon here in North America to see the same thing, but in terms of team structure, the American teams will most likely provide a mechanic for the riders, where in Europe, the rider has to have his own mechanic, the team will most likely not supply one.

What is the number one thing home mechanics can do to keep their bike in excellent working condition?

Clean it. Lube it & Protect it with some sort of shine/polish often. And pay attention to the bike when you do so. That way you’ll go over the bike and parts very carefully every time you wash/lube/protect it and you’ll see quickly what there is to fix, change, etc.

The one thing I tell people is make sure your cleaning setup is easily accessible. Leave the pressure washer plugged in water, or keep a hose and a work stand out. That way, it takes a lot less time and you’re not discouraged by the fact that you have to setup before cleaning. You can just come back from a ride, throw your bike on the repair stand, start the hose or pressure washer, clean, lube protect and you’ll be able to keep a close eye on things that need replacement, fixing, etc.

Your Instagram is chock full of phenomenal food photos, specifically loaves of bread and pizza, could you give us one simple recipe for bread or pizza?

Hahaha. I love baking. Pizza & bread are probably my favorite food. Pizza is a very simple recipe that you can make on the BBQ or in the oven at home if you have a baking stone. It’s delicious and it can be healthy if you put good stuff on it. We have a sourdough culture that we use at home, so we need to do something everyday with it or throw away a bit of it, so we try to bake at least every other day.

Quick Pizza, could be done with sourdough too if you have a starter

Dough-

1-Anytime before 2PM, Sprinkle a bit of yeast (like a teaspoon or so) on 400G of +- room temperature water.
2- Add 500G of pizza four (00 type) if you have some or just any flour to the water, a pinch of salt and knead for +-5mins
3- Let it rise for 30-60mins, Go back and knead again a few turns.
4- Let it sit for another little bit, until it +-doubles in size.
5- Take it out of the bowl, fold in a ball one last time on the counter, line a bowl with Olive oil, throw the dough ball in that olive oil lined bowl. Put in the fridge until 1h to dinner.
6- Take it out, split the dough in as many pizzas as you want to make. let it rest on the counter +-30 minutes before stretching it to a pizza!

Sauce –

1- Can of San Marzano Tomatoes. Drain the juice from the can.
2- Put the tomatoes in a bowl, break them with your hands, add a bit of salt & basil to taste and there’s your sauce.

Put in whatever you want on top of that and you have a yourself a nice pizza. I really like just the classic Margherita with a top quality fresh mozzarella on top of that sauce. Never gets old and lets you appreciate the quality of the dough and sauce 🙂

Bon appétit.

 

If you’d like to learn how to glue tubular tires from David, check out this post. 

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Mechanic’s Corner: Summer Maintenance Essentials with Mike Gavagan (Gav The Mechanic)

It’s mid summer, and all the miles on the bike are adding up – it’s time for some basic maintenance to your bike. Fortunately, some of the most common wear items and how to check them over are well within the grasp of even new mechanics. Mike Gavagan, seasoned technical veteran, will share some tips! 

Tires and Sealant

The classic signs of service are excessive wear on the tread, cuts or tears, worn knobs, flat spots, or visible tire casing. When in doubt, replace the tire. And as you’ll no doubt notice, rear tires wear faster! Use the Dual-Sided Pick to pull out any debris from the tire – glass and small pieces of metal can sit in the tire, just waiting to be the source of your next flat. 

If your tires are in good shape and you are running a tubeless tire system, it may be time to refresh your tubeless sealant. You can do this without breaking the seal/bead of the tire . Using your Valve Core Wrench, remove the presta valve core. Using a sealant injector to add 1-2 oz of sealant to your tire (check the manufacturer’s suggested volume). Inject the sealant at the 6 o’clock position. After the sealant has been injected rotate the tire to the 12 o’clock position and then remove the sealant injector. Trust me, you’ll avoid a lot of mess if you do this. Finally make sure the valve nut is finger tight.

If your tire has to be replaced or you want to visually inspect how much sealant is left in your tire, you’ll need to break the bead and remove at least one side from the rim. This is also a great time to clean out any old or dried sealant from inside the tire. This will allow your wheels to spin more balanced. When tubeless sealant dries, it forms a sealant ball, or simply dries to the inside of there tire like a thin skin. Using a set of Steel Core Tire Levers remove one side of the tire. If you are replacing the tire remove the old tire from the rim and install the new tire in the correct tread direction but not installing the tire completely.

Dump in the recommended sealant volume and install the tire bead back onto the rim. You will likely need a high volume floor pump, charger pump or a compressor to re-set the tire bead onto the rim. Pump it back up until the tire seats completely – don’t be alarmed if you hear a loud pop, and don’t exceed the tire’s maximum pressure. Once the bead is seated on both sides, you can then set your tires back to your preferred riding pressure.

Brake Pads and Rotors

Check to see that there is an adequate amount of brake pad left – this goes for disc brake and rim brake systems. Many rim brake pads will have a small line indicating their wear limit. If you are running disc brakes, you want to see about 2.5mm of brake pad material left. If the brake pads are worn past this point it’s a good idea to replace them. Also check to see if the pads are wearing evenly. If one is significantly more worn than the other, it could result in the pad backing contacting the rotor and generally poor braking, as well as damage to the rotors. 

If your brake pads are worn down to the metal it is most definitely time to replace not only the brake pads but the rotors as well. More about this topic in our next post!

Drivetrain

If you are experiencing poor shifting regardless of derailleur adjustments, excessive noise from your chain, or excessive chain slap, it’s probably time for a new chain and or cassette. If the cassette has excessive burring on the teeth of the cogs a brand new chain may not sync with old cassette and may slip or pop in certain gears. Shifting performance will also suffer. Other ways to look for wear on your drivetrain, is if the teeth of the cogs, or the teeth of your chain rings have a very sharp shark tooth profile on the loaded edge. If you notice this shark tooth profile then it is time to replace. Our chain tool is ready to do the job, even for new Sram AXS 12-speed drivetrains. 

Visit Your Local Bike Shop

If you’re uncomfortable making any of these repairs, or unsure of if you should replace a part due to wear, always be sure to take your bike to your local bike shop. But having this information can at least help you be informed, and help you and your mechanic communicate. 

Mike Gavagan is the owner and sole mechanic of Gav the Mechanic. Mike has years of retail service experience, but has also worked for numerous pro and amateur teams such as Drapac Cycling, Specialized S-Racing, Rally UHC, and Slipstream Sports.

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The Feedback Sports Gift Guide

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

It’s that time of year!! Everyone is busy playing reindeer games; slogging through the mud and snow, spraying each other with power-washers, picking grass out of chains, and the whirring of an Omnium Over-Drive fills the air like the Carol of the Bells, …wait. We got the holidays mixed up with the peak of Cyclocross season. Let’s try that again.  Ahem. THE HOLIDAYS are UPON US!!  And while our products have been listed in several amazing Holiday Bicycle Gift Guides*, we thought we’d put a little gift guide together of our own.  We asked several co-workers to share what their favorite Feedback Sports Product is and why.


The Feedback Sports Gift Guide

  1. Thomas McDaniel (Product Marketing Manager): “The Dual-Sided Pic. It’s one of those tools that forces you to look at your bike differently. When I put it in my hand I automatically want to slow down and pay close attention to how my bike is doing – in that way it’s one of the most important tools in my collection.” – This says a lot because Thomas’s “collection” is…robust.  
  2. Scott Knight (Western Sales Manager): “The Bottle Opener. Because it’s ridiculously over-built and awesome.”
  3. Jeff Nitta (Vice President): “The Velo Wall Post.  I like its simplicity for hanging bikes when prepping them for a ride.  I have one at the end of my garage so I can pump up the tires, lube the chain and check to make sure the bike is ready to go.  When I’m done with it I fold it up and it’s out of the way.”
  4. Sammy Rutherford (Eastern Sales Manager: “My Omnium Trainer!! Nothing keeps my legs in better cycling shape during the off-season.”
  5. Will Allen (Product Engineer): “My favorite FBS product is the one currently in development.  The products we currently have are all great, but what we’re working on for the future is even better.”  Wow. Well played, Will. 
  6. Mike Guinta (Product Engineer): “Eggnog.”  “Mike, we don’t make eggnog.”  “…Fine. Tools. I like the tools.”
  7. Lisa Hudson (Co-Owner/Accounting): “The Velo Hinge because it maximizes the storage space for my quiver of bikes!

And there you have it–straight from the folks at Feedback Sports.


We wish you a very merry Holiday Season.  We hope you enjoy the time with your family, friends annnnnnnnd, we also hope you get the chance to sneak out for a ride. It’s never too cold. Never.

*And finally, here’s that list of legitimate Gift Guides we mentioned earlier, plus a contest that would make someone’s holiday very Merry, indeed. 

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TLC for Your Bike Repair Stand

Your trusty wash and work stand has tirelessly held onto your bike(s) hundreds of times so you can freely use both hands to wash, fiddle, adjust, and dial in your favorite ride to keep it in tip top shape, but when is the last time you gave your stand a little love in return? The nice thing about our line of bike repair stands is that they don’t require much, but with a little bit of TLC and inspection of potentially worn parts, you can keep your stand functioning like the first day you laid eyes on each other.  If you’re into bike maintenance and keeping everything in tip-top shape–why not include your bike repair stand?  Read on to find out how to keep things wash and work  running smoothly, which leads to your bike running smoothly, which in turn leads to adorable canines and world peace.

Now that your stand is dirty from the grime that has come off of your bike from a good season of riding, here are a few helpful tips and tricks to get your stand dialed so you can focus on keeping your bike clean and happy.

Clean it up.

Feedback Sports repair stands are made from premium materials to stand up to the elements, so they aren’t afraid of a little soap and water. Some basic Dawn dish soap in a bucket of warm water will serve as a safe and friendly cleaning agent that’s both easy on the stand and your hands. A soft brush such as the one that you use for cleaning your bike is typically sufficient for removing grime around moving parts and will be easy on your stand’s finish.

(PRO tip: Instead of adding soap first then adding water to create the bubbles, reverse the process by adding soap to water and allowing it to dissolve for a moment. A shot of pressured water will agitate the solution and give you bubbles that will last exponentially longer and be more effective for cleaning).

Shake and dry.

After you give your stand a sudsy bath, grab onto the main center tubes and give the stand a good shake to get some water off of the surfaces. A drop motion followed by an abrupt stop is typically a good method for shaking some of the water off. Follow up with a soft and absorbent cloth over all of the main surfaces to remove any grime you may have missed in the washing phase. Letting your stand hang out in the warmth of the sun will allow all of the non-reachable places to dry out entirely.

(Sunglasses optional; however, your stand does appreciate stylish accessories to accentuate it’s already silky good looks).
Keep things moving freely.

Your repair stand has moving parts that like to stay moving freely. Keeping these moving parts lubricated periodically will protect them during repeated wash cycles and make your life easier when it comes time to setting your stand up or folding it back down.  Give a drop of chain lube to areas such as the barrel nut inside the QR levers or the cam interface of the QR to make the actuation smoother. Follow up with a rag to pick up any excess chain lube that may have dripped.

(Note: Don’t lubricate the main telescoping tube as it will not have sufficient grip for keeping your bike suspended in the spot you want it).
Take a closer look.

Once everything has been cleaned up, a good once over to see how your parts are wearing is a good idea. Pay attention to rubber foot plugs and clamp jaws as they typically see the most amount of wear on the stand. Having some spare parts in your toolbox is a nice way to minimize any downtime in case something does need to be replaced from wear. Replacement parts can be found at the following link: Work Stand Replacement Parts .

Enjoy a cold one.

Finally, don’t forget to grab a cold drink and use your stand’s bottle opener to access the delicious contents inside. Sit back, relax, and take a moment to marvel over your freshly cleaned ride and repair stand.

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Inside the Mind of a Bike Geek at the Colorado Classic

Colorado Classic Bike Race from a Feedback Sports bike racer.

Here in Colorado we have a rich history of professional bike racing. Our altitude and challenging hills (mountains, really) have been luring cyclists for years.  Those seeking pain and glory got plenty of both at the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic (1975-79). This morphed into the Coors Classic (1980-1988). If you were living in Colorado during that time, it was an annual party (picture that scene in American Flyers–it was filmed in 1984, just weeks after the Coors Classic finished, on parts of the same race course).

But then the racing stopped. Colorado fell into a pro-racing withdrawal for years. Like the fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” all the pro racing villagers seemed to fall asleep. Thorns and bushes grew over our hills until our cities (and eventually our state) practically forgot pro bike racing ever existed here. Okay, okay, this is an exaggeration.  The local bike racing scene and the cycling lifestyle boomed in Colorado with during this gap. And our roads are mostly thorn-free except for that one section of HWY 93 that’s full of glass. 

Regardless, the USA Pro Challenge came along in 2011, slashing through the thorny vines and waking everyone up!  We had 4 glorious summers of tour busses filled with very skinny/fast people and hordes of bikes streaming through our cities. Bells were rung, flowers bloomed, mountains called, the crowds came out. But apparently someone pricked his or her finger on a spinning wheel and put us all to sleep again at the end of 2015. We’re guessing it was that shirtless bozo drunkenly running (er…trotting) up Lookout Mountain.  The race would not return in 2016. More darkness. More sadness. Much snoring.

Snoring…until this SUMMER — the summer of the inaugural Colorado Classic Bike Race!! And yippee!! Pro bike racing is BACK to Colorado!

Read on for a recap of the Colorado Classic through the eyes of one of our local Feedback Sports racers, Dan Wyszynski. Dan fits in well with our team as he’s a self-proclaimed bike geek. We ran into him at the final stage (in downtown Denver). As Dan started showing us his pictures and video from the previous stages we knew his story would make a fun post.  We hope you enjoy taking a tour…inside the mind of a bike geek at the Colorado Classic.


History

In May of 2000, I decided to leave the suburbs of Chicago and my family to ride and race my bikes in the mountains.  And 17 years later, I am still in Colorado.  Riding and racing bikes.  I participate mostly in mountain bikes and cyclocross for Feedback Sports Race Team as a category 2 in both disciplines.

A slightly muddy Dan (far left).

These experiences fed into my bike geekiness.  Imagine going to a stage race with the top pros in the world, as a spectator.  Yes, I am one of those crazed fans who runs alongside the top racers on the planet.  It started with the Tour of California several years ago, US Pro Cycling Challenge-Colorado, Leadville 100 mtb, various MTB and CX UCI level events, and this year’s inaugural Colorado Cycling Classic.

Stages 2 & 4

I drove up to Breckenridge Thursday night, and slept in the woods to catch Stage 2 in and around the town. At the beginning, I stood at the start line for the call-ups.  2017 Tour de France 2nd place overall rider Rigoberto Uran was within an arm’s reach.  Local Pro Tour guys, Alex Howes, Taylor Phinney, Danny Pate, and Gregory Daniel were all on the front line.

I stayed there for a couple laps, then I decided to make my way to the wicked climb/KOM at Moonstone Road (a 8.3%-10.8% grade).  Being at this point in the course was a dream come true.  Picture hundreds of people, in costumes, (some barely clothed), bubble machines, and a party bus equipped with a second story dance floor along with a DJ scratching records.  And then add LOTS OF BEER!!!!!

I also went to the final stage 4 in and around the city of Denver.  HOT HOT HOT!  It was a relief when the storm clouds rolled in.  Just as the riders crossed the line, rain, lightning and the winds came. This just added to an epic finish in the middle of the city.

Best Interactions w/the Racers

I had a great time yelling, screaming, and heckling Alex Howes and Gregory Daniel to keep on drilling it.  Both of whom had big smiles every time they passed me (maybe it was a grimace, who knows!).

But the best and most amazing performance was TJ Eisenhart of the Holowesko/Citadel Team.  From the start of the race he takes a flyer off the front.  He held the lead for 60+ miles-SOLO.  However, with a couple miles-final lap to go he was caught by Alex Howes and Peter Stetina and Alex won the stage with a wicked sprint finish.

Dan and TJ.

Craziest Thing Seen

It is nearly impossible to pick one thing.  Moonstone Rd was the perfect spot for all of the craziness.  My top two are:  The guy with a monkey hand puppet, head banging and dancing to Metallica’s Seek and Destroy.  And second would be the guy who wheelied up the steepest part of the KOM climb-about 50-60 yards (Peter Sagan style).

Hope  

The younger generation of riders is the hope for the sport.  Some of them are under 20 years of age.  Lots of them are 20-23 years old.  Also, the Colorado Classic is the first of its kind where the race as a whole is different.  More of a festival type of atmosphere.  One example was the concerts, food trucks, and vendors in the expo area of the final stage.

The course profiles are also different.  Total mileage per stage is much less than what it was before.  Short distances, hilly parts and super-fast speeds.  This new aspect of the sport was clearly obvious and super exciting for Stage 2 in Breckenridge.  You could feel the energy of the fans, the racers and the announcers; all of whom gave this race five stars all the way around.


*Only time will tell if Colorado’s pro cycling racing kingdom will stay awake and alert for the coming years. But for now, we’ll take the five stars…and the two T-Rex.  

 

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Red Hook Crit – Team Specialized/Rocket Espresso

As die-hard cycling fans, it should come as no surprise to read that we have long-pined over attending the Red Hook Crit. The lights, the city, the fans, the spectacular crash footage, etc. But rather than make the l-o-o-o-n-g drive from Colorado to Brooklyn, (CA to NY if you count that we just got back from Sea Otter) we’ve opted to partner with Team Specialized/Rocket Espresso to represent our products instead.

This is great for the following list of reasons:

  • As previously mentioned, NY is far, far, far away from CO.  Our van is a go-getter, but that’s asking a lot.
  • This team is fast.
  • Think “fast” and then multiply it by 1,000 (as in “Eamon-Lucas-just-won-the-Pro-Men’s-Crit-at-Sea-Otter” type of fast).
  • The team will have coffee and beer for you to drink in their palatial tent while they intentionally pummel their bodies at the Red Hook Crit.
  • Having this fast team warm-up and cool-down on our Omnium portable trainers/rollers will be a touch more impressive than say…us warming-up under our tent and likely crashing during the first lap.


This isn’t insinuating that we’re slow with poor bike-handling skills or that our tent isn’t pretty, but you get the idea.

  • Most of us are Cyclo-cross and MTB racers. Crits are scary to us. We don’t know what to do with our hands.
  • Okay, now I feel badly for our tent. I didn’t mean it.  Our tent looks very nice and we offer plenty of fine Colorado craft beer options.
  • Seriously, our beer is the best.


But, I digress. 
If you happen to be going to the race, find the Specialized-Rocket Espresso tent and fuel up on espresso and/or beer.  And take in the beauty of the bikes, the racers, the venue and the crowd that’s made the Red Hook Crit what it is today. And if you can’t make it, Specialized will be hosting a livestream of the finals on Specialized.com.?

Roster: 

  • Aldo Ino Ilisec (Slovenia) – Team Captain, 2nd in the overall last year.
  • Eamon Lucas (USA) – Under 25 USA Crit champ in 2017, winner of stage 5 of 2016 Tour of Fuzhou.
  • Stefan Schafer (Germany) – 6day racer, winner of RHC Milano 2016
  • Alec Briggs (UK) – 6day racer and long time favorite in the RHC series.
  • Akinori Yamamura (Japan) – Pro cyclist.

Race Series: 

  • Brooklyn No.10 – Apr 29th
  • London No.3 – July 22nd
  • Barcelona No.5 – Sept 2
  • Milano No.8 – Oct 14th
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The Feedback Cup (a.k.a. Our Version of the World Series)

It’s just about here.  Do you hear it? Listen!  In the dusty Colorado distance you can hear the ringing of cowbells and sizzling of bacon–all in preparation for the 4th Annual Feedback CUP!!! That’s right.  THIS Saturday (November 5th) is the big day! And while the history of this race might not go back to…oh, say that of the World Series (go Cubs!)  we still think it’s pretty special.  It is our World Series, so to speak. It’s therefore fitting to continue with that comparison for this blog.

History:

The inception of the World Series goes back to 1903 (although it began as early as 1884).  The first Feedback Sports Cup was in 2013 but our cyclocross racing spirit goes back years before that. Race director, Lee Waldman elaborates on the course and its race history, “When I was with Red Rock Velo we were looking for a new venue.  At that time, my wife (Caren) was the director at Lookout Mtn. Youth Services Center and she offered the venue to us.  We took it and ran with it.  At first it was just a stand alone weekend event and then about 5 or 6 years ago Chris McGee, who was Executive Director of BRAC at the time, came to me with the idea of a mid-week series.  That’s how B2B began.”

In 2013 Feedback Sports decided to piggy-back on this stellar course.  But faced the challenge of keeping the course fresh.  With Lee’s direction and the input from our team and community, we were able to pull it off and have been doing so ever since.

Home Field Advantage: 

Any sports aficionado knows the home field advantage is not a myth. Did we build our office specifically to be within a mile of this course?  Of cour-hor-hor-ourse not. (…awkward silence…) That would be silly (voice rises several octaves).  But Feedback Sports owner/founder, Doug Hudson admits, “The Feedback Cup is great because it’s in our hometown of Golden–about 1 mile from the office.  Our Feedback Sports racing team (and race director/team-mate Lee Waldman) puts a lot of time into making sure the race runs smoothly. The Feedback Cup course is staple on the local CX scene as it also hosts a Wednesday night series (late August through mid-October) in addition to our race so we are very familiar with all the sections. My favorite part of the day is seeing some of my neighbors come out to see what cyclocross racing is all about.”

This year’s course: 

Want to know what to expect this year?  The course is open to pre-ride, but for those of you who can’t make it, Lee’s added a few new features this year to keep things interesting. “The differences may be minor, but people who ride the B2B series will notice. The climbs are a bit different, some of the turns have different turning radiuses and slightly changed entries and exits,” says Waldman.  He adds,  “There’s a balance between technically challenging sections, more flowing pedaling sections and sections that require riders to be strategic in line choice, tire pressure, etc.  It’s turny, and technical, physically challenging, but a lot of fun at the same time.  I ride it at least 2 to 3 times a week and never get bored.” (Home fiellllllllllld advannnnnnnnnntage.)

The Die-Hards:  

Like the World Series, the Feedback Cup brings the heat when it comes to enthusiasm. Whether it’s the racers, the fans, co-sponsors, our announcer (Larry Grossman) or the food vendors, you can be sure everyone brings their A-game.

 

A prime example of this would be Feedback Sports racer (and in-house engineer) Will Allen. You can find him leading sunrise laps Wednesday mornings, riding the course at lunch and working on the course over the weekend.  Will loves racing cross, but it ties into his day-job more than one might think. “Racing gives me the opportunity to observe how consumers are truly using our products.  This helps push improvements to current products and can also drive developing new products, offering a solution to a problem we didn’t know existed.”

When asked what Will’s favorite part of the course he replied in true engineer fashion, “The section a little before, then through, and after the stairs.  Not sure how else to describe it.  I could answer this question better with a picture or GPS coordinates.”  We’ll settle for the course-preview video, Will (coming soon).

**SEVENTH INNING STRETCH.  Get up from your monitor, (or put your phone down) and sing along with the legendary Bill Murray.

The Sponsors: 

Fun World Series fact to wind things down: before the era of championship rings, triumphant players took home…timepieces. That’s right–as in pocket watches. We won’t be giving either of these items out to race winners, but we will have equal pay-outs, and a TON of other cool things. For the second year, all pre-registered racers will be entered to win an Omnium portable trainer.  Winner will be chosen Friday morning and presented their Omnium at the race on Saturday.

John Shearer from Finish Line / White Lightening has been instrumental in making this year’s race-day prize list better than ever! Spot Bicycles has graciously provided a Rallye frame set to raffle off on race day.  Crank Brothers has given us almost $5000 worth of product.  Jinji Cycles and Golden Bike shop are going to be on site providing technical support. We’d also like to give a special shout-out to The Amy D. Foundation.  As Lee Waldman noted, “They’ll be there on race day and simply thinking about who they are and why they exist reminds us of Amy’s dedication to the sport. And that’s a gift.”

In closing, we hope to see you there.  It would really mean…THE WORLD to us (sorry, couldn’t resist).

 

 

 

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Track Racing with Lucas Clarke

With the USA Masters Track National Championships in full swing (Indianapolis) and those “games” currently happening in a country that rhymes with “trio”, we figured it’s the perfect time to talk about track racing. We’ll admit that we’re a bit fuzzy on this subject, so we asked one of our favorite local track racers (and avid Omnium user) Lucas Clarke to tell us a bit about it. Read below as Lucas demystifies all things track to this company of commuters, roadies, Cx racers and MTB aficionados.

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  1. Name / Team / Years racing:  Lucas Clarke / Primal-Audi Denver / 9 years racing, Cat 2 on the Road, Track, Cat 3 Cyclocross.
  2. Your favorite race: My favorite race on the Track is the Individual Pursuit which is a 4k time trial on the track.  You vs. the clock, all out for 4000 meters.
  3. How do you integrate the Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Trainer into your training and racing? It’s virtually impossible to find a stretch of road anywhere near my house to do 3-5 minutes sprint efforts holding 900-1100 watts safely.  Those are the bursts you need for road and track racing. With the Omnium I can do that in my basement before the sun event comes up–no cars, no stoplights. On race days at the track, you’re parking and walking, juggling your bike, your bag, all your gear, etc. The Omnium just makes it all easier.
  4. Top Speed on the track: My top speed at Track Nats this year was 40.3 mph.
  5. What’s up with those brakes? What brakes? We don’t need brakes. It makes the racing simple, fast and a bit dangerous (cue Kenny Loggins).
  6. How long do you have to track stand on that one race? The match sprint is notorious for the awesome track stands.  You try and out fox the other sprinter to get them to lead you out and then make your JUMP.
  7. What are your gear ratios and how often do you changes throughout the races and why? I typically like to run smaller gears in the Points race (where the speed is often going up and down a lot) 50 x 14 (96.4 gear inches) and for more steady tempo races like the Scratch race I run a larger gear, 53 x 14 (102.2 gear inches).  You want to be able to spin and get  “on top” of the gear without destroying your legs.
  8. Do you ever get dizzy and/or have you thrown up during a race? Not really, you really get in the zone by following the black and red lines and you immerse yourself into the race.
  9. Track racing seems so “dignified”.  Do you extend the courtesy of saying “on your left” when you pass during a race? All passing on the track should come on your right, passing on the left is only allowed if you are above the blue line.  This keeps the races safe so no one is pushing you off the black line (sprinters line).
  10. So…no? No.

We’d like to congratulate Lucas on another solid season of track racing. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter for more fast (and slightly dangerous) bike action. Picture everything above come Fall but add a Cx bike…and brakes…and take away the track. 

Related links: 

*Intentional vagueness of the intro sentence can be attributed to Rule #40 and Coca Cola.